United World has gathered the opinions of some of Ecuador’s most important business and political leaders on Guayaquil’s leading role and the inherent values and traits of people from the Guayas province
What is the role of Guayaquil in the dynamics of Ecuador?
Bruno Leone, President, Servigroup: The most significant social plan a government can implement is one which helps people to find honorable, stable and legal employment, which serves to promote dignity among individuals. Guayaquil is the leading city in Ecuador for employment. It is a city that thrives on the work of its people. There is a saying I like to recall, and it is that “the primary social responsibility of a company is to be profitable so that it can support employment and endure the test of time.” So, the role of our city is this: to promote entrepreneurship, defend the freedom to work, and undertake new activities, and through these duties achieve a respectable standard of living for our citizens.
Henry Kronfle, President, National Business Bureau: Guayaquil plays a paramount role. Firstly, it is the most populated city in Ecuador. And secondly, this thriving city has historically been the driving force for development in the country, regardless of the political leanings of the current government or of the money the central administration pours into the economy. This city has always been an icon of freedom and progress in Ecuador, generating confidence among the economic actors established in our city, and encouraging them to continue contributing to progress and well-being through various economic activities and investments.
Jorge Arosemena, Former Political Chief of Guayas Province: Guayaquil plays a significant role in all aspects of Ecuadorian life. As the most populated city and the driving motor of the country, it naturally holds great influence in any political, social, economic and cultural movements in Ecuador. It is a thriving city characterized by the hard work of its citizens, making it the first and foremost city in the country. Its location on the port makes it a city open to everyone. Here, there is a natural chemistry between Guayacos and foreigners, who work together with the same goal of helping the city to grow and become more beautiful. We take pride in the growth and development Guayaquil has experienced in the last 25 years thanks to Mayor Jaime Nebot and León Febres-Cordero. Ours is a city with much to offer and to share with newcomers, and this is evidenced by our position as the most visited city by both native Ecuadorians and foreigners. Guayaquil has a place for everyone.
Nicolas Romero Sangster, General Manager, Guayaquil Airport Authority: Guayaquil has always been a leader in all the important revolutions that happened in Ecuador. It has always been the flag-bearing city, always ahead of all the fundamental changes that took place in the history of this country – starting with the port-city’s declaration of independence on October 9, 1820, and then the battle against foreign domination. After that there was the Alfaro Revolution, the most progressive in all Latin America. Alfaro’s Ecuador was one of the first countries to adopt the separation of church and state, to institute women’s vote and equality, to legalize divorce, and others.
Guayaquil has always been the catalyst for the modern ideas that came from Europe against the conservative status quo, which always shut itself inside the country. And you can still notice that. While in the rest of the country the concept of “21st century socialism” is thriving, in Guayaquil there is development and entrepreneurship
Rodolfo Kronfle, President, Guayaquil Stock Exchange: Since I was born, and for a long time, Guayaquil has been the financial and numerically speaking, largest city of Ecuador due to a series of circumstances. Politically, even though it was not the capital, I think that it was the most important city in the country, because here is where the most important revolutions in history occurred.
From here came the most important leaders of history, such as García Moreno, Alfaro, who were the most brilliant representatives of political movements, which in their time were revolutionary. All of this, without Guayaquil being the political capital of the country.
With time and with great skill by the central government, Quito began to acquire a very important position in being the financial part of the country, because all the oil companies operating in the east had their head offices in Quito and, therefore, were taxed there. The same thing happened with leading industrial companies that had settled in Guayaquil, with offers of special handouts, which over time installed their head offices in Quito, although their production bases were in Guayaquil.
Then, if we intend to analyze which is the financial capital of Ecuador, which for centuries was Guayaquil, today we might get confused and point out that it is Quito, but what is collected in Quito is not equal to what is produced there. The oil is produced in the east but taxed in Quito. The chocolate factories produce here but the main offices are in Quito.
So, it is important to assess other variables. The declarations that are given in both towns reflect the social economic aspects that each one has.
José Coco Yúnez Parra, Mayor of Samborondon: I believe that Guayaquil is one of the cities that have developed the most in South America over the last few years; this is indisputable. The people who know Guayaquil know that it has changed a lot; we are old enough to see the difference in the city over these past two decades. Of course there is a long way to go. It is a very big city with nearly 3 million inhabitants, which for many years have been manhandled by politicians, and this has caused many problems which have been gradually resolved. We have four municipalities separated by a river, but they are joined by bridges, and by tradition, culture, and history. By strengthening this greater Guayaquil area, even though we have different political views, it will turn Guayaquil into a center of really important development in Latin America.
Carla Rossignoli, Executive Director Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce: I believe that Ecuador is a varied country, with diversity in many aspects. I think that this great concept enriches each and every region of the country in different ways. Feeling that we are in fact different should not be a concept that separates us. On the contrary. To be able to find that diversity or that wealth that exists according to the regions, to get the best out of it. Perhaps when talking about Guayaquil, at no time should we use the term regionalist, but rather we should just focus on the term diverse, because Guayaquil imposes dynamics that are different to those of the country. It is not better or worse, just different, which means that effectively due to a number of other geographic elements, this converts it into what it is – the country’s main port.
Sandro Coglitore, General Manager, Omarsa: I believe that over time, Guayaquil has been the leading city of Ecuador in all kinds of ventures in the private sector. The shrimp and banana industries were started there, cocoa and fishing are also very present here. And thanks to its port it is the driving force for both imports and exports. This is why private activity dominates over public activity, unlike in other regions. The flower industry is currently being developed, but it has not yet achieved the relevant volume in income of the private exporter sector.
Ivan Ontaneda, President, ANECACAO: I always say that Guayaquil is a city of 4 million traders; it is the economic engine of the country, powered by the small and large businesses and industries represented in Guayaquil. I believe that Guayaquil has a natural commercial soul. Anyone who comes to Guayaquil comes to do business at any scale, and that makes it a unique city not only in Ecuador, but in Latin America. Very few cities that I know can be identified with the commercial soul that Guayaquil has; the people, the day to day when you walk in the center, you can identify yourself as someone from Guayaquil, trading, selling anything, that is what Guayaquil produces and transmits.
What are the set of values and traits of the typical Guayaco?
Bruno Leone, President, Servigroup: Work. Guayaquil’s citizens are experienced and self-respecting because they know what they have achieved is the product of their own work and effort, and also that they don’t owe anything to anyone. This feeling of being a free product of your own undertakings is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the people of Guayaquil. We are likewise known for our charity and solidarity, our honesty and transparency. I believe that these characteristics, combined with our nobility, are what set us apart.
Henry Kronfle, President, National Business Bureau: Honesty, perseverance, dignity, order, freedom, and respect for the law. Guayaquil is the most populated city in Ecuador, where both native-born residents and newcomers from other areas of Ecuador live and work together. Once in Guayaquil, anyone can see that the model of our city rests on the essential nature of two-way communication between the local government and the private sector. Guayaquil’s development model is based on the governance structure of public-private partnerships, and both sectors work towards the same goals of progress, development, liberty, democracy, order, respect for the law, and investment.
Jorge Arosemena, Former Political Chief of Guayas Province: As my late uncle and former president of Ecuador Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy used to say: “Being Guayaco is an attitude towards life and a lifestyle in itself”. We are warm, welcoming, supportive, and friendly. The beauty of this charm is that our way of living is contagious and has led to great contributions to the city from everyone who comes here, be they a foreigner or from the highlands of Ecuador.
Nicolas Romero Sangster, General Manager, Guayaquil Airport Authority: The people from Guayaquil are frank and direct; they don’t like wasting their time. They are bold and resourceful. But at the same time they also have an important philanthropist side to them. There is no other Latin American city with as many charities as Guayaquil. We must not forget that the first hospital built by the state in Guayaquil was in 1971. Until that time, it was the charity commission that was in charge of the General Hospital, the maternity unit, the hospice, the cemetery, etcetera, so the charity commission really took us from the cradle to the grave.
When we opened the airport, our major concern was thinking that the people would not take good care of the public restrooms, or the fish, the plants, and all the rest of the things we placed there, which are after all public property. And actually the ones who helped us the most in maintaining the airport’s facilities were the very same people from Guayaquil, who are always interested in having an airport that is comfortable, clean, and well organized.
Sandro Coglitore, General Manager, Omarsa: It seems to me that it is very easy to do business with the people in Guayaquil. Usually, people from Guayaquil are transparent – they hide nothing – and are extremely hospitable, friendly and upfront. We see these characteristics in the image that the more than 40 destinations with which we do business have of us, and that distinguishes us from our competitors. We have no religious or gender problems, as can happen with other countries, where some producers may receive different treatment to their counterparts. Here everyone is welcome.